Your email marketing strategy is only as strong as your subscriber base. After all, an email campaign can only achieve its goals if it’s received, opened, and engaged with.
This makes subscriber base nurturing, and unsubscription preventative measures just as important as strategizing and publishing.
What are the measures your company is taking to keep subscribers engaged, and more importantly, what measures do you take to prevent unsubscription?
Before you make the mistake of making unsubscription difficult (which can increase subscriber distrust, and therefore unsubscription requests), you should become well versed in the many nuanced ways in which your brand can discourage unsubscription in a trust-building, relationship-nurturing manner.
Let’s take a look at some ways your company can disparage email subscribers from pressing that unsubscribe button.
Replace your subscription form with a Preference Center
Not everyone who clicks the unsubscribe button wants to fully unsubscribe from all communications.
Some contacts who unsubscribe are actually looking to receive less emails, or tweak what communications they receive. These are the subscribers you can save by implementing a preference center instead of using a standard subscription/unsubscription form.
A Preference Center gives plenty of options to a subscriber looking to customise the frequency of communications or the types of communication they receive.
A Preference Center replaces a standard subscription form. In the latter, new subscribers subscribe to a general mailing list. In the former, subscribers choose what they wish to subscribe to, and are segmented into target mail groups accordingly.
A Preference Center will catch contacts who do value some of your communications but are not interested in some of your other content. Instead of only having two choices: to remain subscribed, or to unsubscribe – these contacts will likely remain subscribed when they get the opportunity to customise their subscription to your brand’s emails.
Segment, target, trigger – Be more relevant
One of the most common reasons for unsubscribing is that the communications received were irrelevant to the contact.
One of the most important preventative measures your company can take against unsubscription is to ensure that the email campaigns you blast are sent to the right people at the right time. Secondly, the content of your emails have to consistently deliver on a promise of high value content that’s relevant to the recipient.
How do you ensure relevance? You’ll need to collect and analyse data, segment your database accordingly, and target the right segmented groups with the content most relevant to them.
If you’re using a marketing automation platform, you can even automate segmentation, and relevance.
Here are a few tools that help:
- Mail group filters by behaviour (e.g. instantly create mail groups based off contacts who clicked certain links, attended specific events, etc)
- Trigger based emails. Automatically trigger emails to send to specific contacts based on their behaviour or data (e.g. send a happy birthday email on a contact’s recorded birth date)
- Dynamic content. This tool allows you to set multiple versions of content for a single email, and to set rules for each section of copy so that it shows – or doesn’t – depending on a contact’s preferences, or data.
Score engagement, and target unengaged subscribers while you have the chance
Happy subscribers are highly engaged subscribers. Unsubscribers tend to be unengaged for a good chunk of time before clicking the opt out button.
One way to avoid subscribers from falling through the cracks, and unsubscribing – is to stay on top of their engagement.
In order to identify which contacts require extra TLC, it’s best to use an engagement scoring tool. An engagement scoring tool, like the one available on the Swift Digital platform, allows you to assign ‘points’ to specific contact behaviour and actions. These points accumulate and form an engagement score for each individual subscriber.
For example, you might award 50 points for opening an email, and 500 points for attending an event. You then would consider someone with a score of above 1000 to be highly engaged, whilst those with below 500 points would be unengaged.
Using your engagement tool, you can then segment your contacts by low engagement scores for targeting. Create a re-engagement campaign to send to these segmented, unengaged subscribers, with the main goal of re-engaging them and preventing unsubscription.
You will have to get creative with your engagement campaign. After all, previous communications from your brand has failed to pique the interest of this unengaged group.
Use A/B split testing to test out the success of different subject lines, and email content. Try sending your email at different times of day to see which time garners the most opens. Try creating multiple emails within your engagement campaign to see what kind of content your unengaged subscribers respond to most. Do they open emails with special offers, and discounts? Or emails with promising high value educational content?
A re-engagement campaign is also the perfect time to up the ante with some of the aforementioned tips; for example, try trigger based emails and personalisation to boost relevancy.
Email less frequently
A surefire way to drive people to unsubscribe is to annoy them. What’s the easiest way to annoy your subscribers? By contacting them too often.
69% of unsubscribers claim that ‘receiving emails too often’ is their reason for clicking the opt out link.
It’s easy for eager marketing teams to lose count of how frequently they send communications to their contact lists, and that’s precisely where marketing automation platforms come in to smooth things out.
Segmenting and targeting specific contacts and niche groups within your main mailing list is one way of ensuring you send less frequently. When you send most of your communications to your entire database, then most of your subscribers are undoubtedly hearing too often from you.
Another way marketing automation tools can help you send less frequently is through publication suppression. You can make sure to suppress contacts who’ve received your last email, for example, when sending out a new campaign only a day after the previous one.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic, universal rule of thumb when it comes to email frequency. A survey run by MarketingSherpa revealed such contradictory stats as 61% of contacts preferring to receive promotional emails at least once a month, whilst a surprising 15% of contacts said they like receiving them every day.
Really, the key takeaway here is that your target audience will have its own preferences for frequency – and even further – individual contacts will have unique preferences too.
A Preference Center can take the pain out of figuring all of this out – as you can simply ask how often the subscriber would like to hear from your brand. That way you will have mail groups segmented based on mailing frequency.
Although watching an unsubscription rate increase feels like the end of the world for any discerning email marketer, it also presents an opportunity. Think of your unsubscription rate as a litmus test for your email marketing strategy.
Unsubscribers reveal to you that there’s work to be done when it comes to your email campaigns, and a high opt out volume is just the wake up call many email marketers need in order to reinvent their strategy and get creative with their campaigns, and automation techniques.
Whether you’re struggling with an already high unsubscription rate, or are looking to prevent one, the answer is always to use the best automation tools available to you, coupled with a creative, ever-adapting approach to content and strategy.
Avoid unsubscribers by staying fresh, and relevant – which is something your email marketing team should always be keeping in mind, regardless.
If you’d like to improve your engagement rates, why not talk to the Swift Digital team about how our marketing automation tools can help? Contact us, or give us a call on 02 9929 7001.